Posted 10 April 2024
Interview by Isabelle Cassidy
Mention April Lin 林森

April Lin 林森 on how focusing on life outside your career can help it flourish authentically

When artist April Lin 林森 started out, they didn't have family working in the arts or pre-existing links to the industry. It was through trial and error, and gradually creating connections with fellow artists, that April built the career they have now. Since graduating with an MA in Screen Documentary filmmaking in 2019, April Lin 林森 has shown work in over 30 countries, on six continents, with host institutions including BFI Southbank, The V&A, and Echo Park Film Centre. Acknowledging the all-consuming nature of a career as a curator and artist, it's the “tending to life” outside of their career that allows their practice to be “honest, vulnerable, and playful.” Here, April Lin 林森 shares how to stay balanced in a world where self-promotion, social media and the pressure to stand out can feel overwhelming.

April Lin 林森 photographed by El Hardwick

April Lin 林森

Job Title

Artist and Independent Curator



Place of Study

MA Screen Documentary, Goldsmiths, 2018–2019
BSc Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2014–2017


Shown at the V&A Museum, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Manchester Art Gallery, 4:3 Boiler Room


Social Media


What I do

How would you describe what you do as an interdisciplinary artist and independent curator?
I create spaces for conversation and exchange, using many forms and tools to create and hold this space. In these spaces, connections can begin to emerge, joining topics, approaches or areas of life that might seem separate otherwise, but which are entangled.

There are many tools, textures, and forms that these spaces can be built with, which is where the multidisciplinary nature of my work comes in — there’s great freedom and sense of play in working across visual, sonic, conceptual, textual realms, or some combination of the above.

As an artist, I see this space being opened and held within the artwork itself; as a curator, the space is birthed from gathering pre-existing artworks and placing them in dialogue with one another.

Ultimately, I see tending to these meeting points as a way to nurture relations and processes that move us closer to upheaval, liberation, or healing. In short, pathways both grounded in collective survival during late-stage global capitalism and impending ecological crisis, and beyond, towards ways of being that predate and transcend the sociopolitical systems we have been born into.

April Lin 林森 photographed by El Hardwick

What are the main influences and inspirations behind your work?
There is no hierarchy or comparison, it’s just what happens to touch me at a certain point in time and space, and the way it lands — perhaps instantly and viscerally, perhaps gradually, over a number of years. It can be a poem I read, a film I’ve watched, or the way the evening sunlight caresses the ripples on a watery surface, or the way a meal is so delicious that I can’t help but cherish all the matter, elements, and energies that have gone into its making.

“Branching into curatorial work in the past few years has been life-giving for me.”

What’s been your favourite project to work on from the past year, and why?
I’ve really enjoyed working on the three projects I am producing for Queer East Festival this spring — I am programming two screenings and curating one group exhibition. One of the screenings is centred around monstrosity, approaching the figure of the monster as a refusal to be legible, obedient or docile. The other screening centres viscosity, watery and steamy textures as a textural birthplace for queer sexuality and is followed by a catered sauna experience. The group exhibition brings together artists who in their work create their own lexicons and systems of selfhood, transgressing the ramifications of identity labels.

Branching into curatorial work in the past few years has been life-giving for me. One way I see it is that it’s a chance for me to create the events that I would genuinely want to attend. It's a way to create the opportunities to learn that I would want to experience, and also be able to extend that invitation to others as well.

Still from 'TR333', a speculative documentary which imagines a new species of tree based on scientific literature on plants and climate hardiness

How I got here

How did you go about landing your first few jobs, clients and/or commissions?
A healthy combination of blind faith, committed searching and accepting rejection. I don’t have any family working in the arts or any other pre-existing connections to the sector and the industry, so all the experience and knowledge I have has come through my own trial and error or through conversations with friends and peers. It’s only through doing that you start to learn about what aligns, what is a good kind of friction, what is a bad kind of friction, and what to do with that information once you have realised it.

In short, I just did a lot and saw what came of it afterwards.

“It’s only through doing that you start to learn what aligns: what's a good kind of friction and what's a bad kind of friction.”

How important are social media and self-promotion to your work? Do you have any advice or learnings to share?
It’s a great tool to network with, but it’s about remembering that it’s not the be-all and end-all. Like all tools, it’s the purpose that matters.

Social media is a tool. Like many others I work with, the relationship to it straddles pleasure and necessity. I appreciate how social media allows relationships to develop and be maintained, but it can be pretty distracting because of the illusion of capital or community that can become attached to it. Like any tool, it’s important to remember what your end purpose is in using it — at the end of the day, information is just information, it’s what you do, or don’t do, with it that matters.

'PASSAGE TOMBS', a video installation in 2022 that focused on scaffolding and screens to create a version of the eponymous Neolithic stone structure, likening slabs of stone to slabs of screen

What have you found useful to your work or career, and why?
Tending to my life outside of my career. In so doing, I approach my work as something that stems from a wider modality of being — rather than work being a central pillar of my identity that informs the rest of my relations. For me, it makes my work much more sustainable as its maker. It allows for the meaning-making aspect to flow more naturally, rather than being enforced externally or retrofitted. It also makes being an artist a much more honest, vulnerable, and playful endeavour.

My advice

What has been your greatest learning with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
Adding late payment terms to your invoices really seems to help people to pay you on time. 10/10 recommend.

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
If you’re going to trade financial stability for working in the arts, then the least you can do is have fun along the way.


'For My Inner Fledgling' performed Center for Contemporary Arts Glasgow. The work explored how food can act simultaneously as a mediator of care, intergenerational trauma, and the diasporic experience (Photographed by Julia Bauer)

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into a similar role?
To try different things out and see how and where you would like to position yourself. Move from a place of centredness and start building a genuine network of collaborators. Pace yourself, but keep yourself open — moving, doing, learning.

Try different things out; see your work as an evolving limb growing alongside yourself. Don’t fall for the trap of pushing others down or pretending to be someone you’re not to get ahead; there will be plenty of temptations and invitations to do so.

Move with the right relations in mind— it’s your art, and only you can be accountable to it. And finally — it’s not like you’re a doctor or you work in finance; there’s no need to be so stressed or extractive about it.

Interview by Isabelle Cassidy
Mention April Lin 林森